Residents ‘fuming’ over plans for holiday lets and homes in rural Llŷn village
Residents in a rural village just three miles from the tourist hotspot of Abersoch are mobilising against a controversial planning application.
Gwynedd Council has extended the deadline for submitting comments about the application in the village of Mynytho until next week due to the public outcry.
Proposals for the development to build 16 holiday lets, a pub and restaurant with parking, and five local market houses on the site of a former garage, were submitted by John Grant Fifield, who stood for the Welsh Conservatives at the 2021 local elections, gaining just 27 votes.
Councillor Angela Russell who represents the Llanbedrog gyda Mynytho ward on Gwynedd Council told Nation.Cymru: “People are fuming and very upset about this.”
Mrs Russell who sits as an Independent got a whopping 95% of the vote in a head-to-head vote with Mr Fifield.
Considering the application, Councillor Russell said: “The carrot here is the so called (five) affordable houses.
“Well, we’ve already got eight affordable houses over the road and half of them are currently empty.”
Mr Fifield also wants to build a pub as part of the development but the local councillor said the village doesn’t need a pub.
“I have to look after the established businesses we already have. The local pub (two miles away) in Llanbedrog is closed from Monday until Thursday. Even in Abersoch there are places which are now shut at the beginning of the week.”
Amongst the objections already submitted to Gwynedd Council are concerns about the possible visual effects the development would have in a location which is already in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Other objections include concerns about possible light pollution. In February, Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) which lies at the tip of Pen Llŷn was certified Europe’s first ever International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
Mr Fifield, who has been approached for comment, is a consultant at Fifield Glyn Chartered Surveyors which he founded in Manchester in 1975.
Over the years the company has acquired other businesses in the sector and has opened offices in London’s Mayfair and in Cheshire.
Fifield Glyn’s website lists a number of properties for sale, including a three-bedroom house “on an exclusive development of five homes” in the village of Mynytho, for offers over £500,000.
Mynytho is in close proximity to Abersoch where some of Wales’s most expensive properties are located and where you can expect to pay around £200,000 for a beach hut.
As a result many locals have now been priced out of the property market.
In research conducted for the Welsh Government on the impact of second homes two years ago, Dr Simon Brooks noted that Gwynedd has the highest number of second homes and holiday lets in Wales.
Within Gwynedd itself, Llanengan ward – which included Abersoch, and has since been renamed the Llanegan gyda Abersoch ward – had the highest percentage of second homes in all of Wales in 2020.
At a recent meeting at Neuadd Goffa Mynytho (the village hall) locals voiced their opposition to Mr Fifield’s planning application.
Concerns were raised about the effect the proposed development could have on the Welsh language, on the natural beauty of the area, the wildlife.
Many people felt it was one development too many.
History of activism
Neuadd Goffa Myntho was built during the economic depression by locals working together.
This collaborative effort is immortalised on the wall of the village hall in the form of an englyn (a traditional Welsh poem) by one of Wales’s most notable poets writing in Welsh, Robert Williams Parry, who died in 1956.
Twenty years ago Neuadd Goffa Mynytho also hit the headline news as the location where the campaign group Cymuned (community) was launched.
Cymuned was co-founded by local Plaid Cymru councillor Simon Glyn, alongside Dr Simon Brooks and the poet and national Eisteddfod Chair winner Twm Morys.
Prior to the organisation’s formation, Mr Glyn, who was also Chair of Gwynedd Council’s Housing Committee, had spoken out about the problems rural Welsh speaking communities faced and suggested that English incomers should be monitored.
Mr Glyn went further and told the BBC Wales current affairs programme Week In Week Out that he had no regrets about speaking out and describing English as a “foreign language” and retired people who move to Wales as a “drain on resources.”
He was widely supported for putting into words what many others around him felt at the time, but he also received hate mail. He admitted he’d used “powerful language” but insisted it was in the context of a “powerful crisis”.
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